Putin likens himself to Peter the Great, suggests Russia is justified in invading Ukraine

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A court in the pro-Russian self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Thursday sentenced three men to death that it has accused of being “mercenaries” for Ukraine, according to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti.

British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune appeared in court on Thursday, where they were handed down the death penalty. 

The three men — all foreign fighters for the Ukrainian military — were captured by Russian forces in mid-April in Mariupol. 

Saadoune, Aslin and Pinner were sentenced to death and will be shot, according to RIA Novosti’s reporting from the court in Donetsk.

The “head of the judicial board” in Donetsk said that the convicted men “can appeal the decision within a month,” according to RIA Novosti.

One of the defendants’ lawyers, Pavel Kosovan, said his client would appeal the verdict, Russian state media TASS reported.

On Wednesday, Pinner, Aslin and Saadoune pleaded guilty to acts of “seizing power by force,” state media reported at the time.  

“The relevant article of the Criminal Code of the DPR provides for the death penalty,” according to RIA Novosti.

Aslin also pleaded guilty under the article “training in order to carry out terrorist activities,” according to state media.

Some context: The so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, a pro-Russian area in the east of Ukraine, is not an internationally recognized government; therefore, the court’s decisions are not considered legitimate by the international community.

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